Bob Lake at UW-T: Justice as Subject and Object of Planning 6/2/16

Urban Studies Annual Lecture Series

Justice as Subject and Object of Planning

Featuring Dr. Robert Lake, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University

Thursday, June 2/5:30-7:00PM

UW Tacoma/Carwein Auditorium 

About this Lecture

Considerations of justice have moved to a central place in planning theory following Susan Fainstein’s (2010) eloquent plea to elevate justice as the principal criterion for the evaluation of planning practice. Justice on this understanding is the object of planning, the normative end that planning practice should strive to achieve. Dr. Robert Lake explores the implications for planning theory and practice of making justice the subject rather than the object of planning. This formulation places justice at the center rather than the outcome of practice: of concern is planning as the practice of justice rather than the justice of planning practice. The question for planning in this mode shifts from “Is this a just outcome?” to “What is justice in this situation?” Drawing from John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy, this question transcends the dualisms between subject and object, and process and outcome, by understanding outcomes as already formulated (what Dewey called ends-in-view) in the process of their production. A planning process that takes justice as its subject is anti-foundational and contextual rather than universal, anticipatory rather than retrospective, generative of solutions rather than evaluative of outcomes, culturally encompassing rather than project-delimited, and inclusively democratic rather than expert-driven. Examples from a variety of sources illustrate the practice of justice as the subject of planning.

For more information:



I wonder what Butler would have made of the media response to Osama bin Laden’s death.  It was covered widely as a political/military event, of course, but also given something like standard obit treatment by outfits like the NYT:

“Osama bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan on Monday, was a son of the Saudi elite whose radical, violent campaign to recreate a seventh-century Muslim empire redefined the threat of terrorism for the 21st century….Osama bin Muhammad bin Awad bin Laden was born in 1957, the seventh son and 17th child, among 50 or more, of his father, people close to the family say. … All of the Bin Laden children were required to work for the family company,  meaning that Osama spent summers working on road projects. Muhammad bin Laden died in a plane crash in 1967, when Osama was 10. The siblings each inherited millions  — the precise amount was a matter of some debate — and led a life of  near-royalty. Osama — the name means “young lion” — grew up playing with Saudi  princes and had his own stable of horses by age 15.”

(Here’s a link to the full thing:

In the sense she describes in Chapter 2, this treatment makes his a publicly “grievable” death.  How does formally recognizing the deaths of villains play into the kind of mourning and recognition of mutual vulnerability she calls for (and claims isn’t happening)?  More examples:

John Demjanjuk, 91, Dogged by Charges of Atrocities as Nazi Camp Guard, Dies

Ariel Sharon, Israeli Hawk Who Sought Peace on His Terms, Dies at 85

Slobodan Milosevic, 64, Former Yugoslav Leader Accused of War Crimes, Dies